Small College Sports

Upper Iowa's Nick Baumler parlays experience into success

Peacocks send 6 to NCAA II Championships at U.S. Cellular Center

Nick Baumler
Nick Baumler

CEDAR RAPIDS — Nick Baumler has posted a reversal of sorts this season.

The Upper Iowa sophomore has tallied more victories than a year ago, finding a way to win tight matches that he struggled to claim in his first college campaign.

“I think it is a mental and physical thing (but) probably more mental,” Baumler said. “Experience is where you figure out how to win those closer matches. This year, I’ve made a lot of adjustments.”

Baumler won two straight two-point matches to reach the regional final and earn his first berth to the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships, beginning Friday at the U.S. Cellular Center. He is one of six Upper Iowa qualifiers and opens with Seton Hill’s Jake Temple (20-8) at 197 pounds.

A more consistent effort in practice and smart strategy in competition has helped the two-time state finalist for North Fayette Valley.

“He’s learning to win in college,” Upper Iowa Coach Heath Grimm said. “You’ve got to wrestle your way to scores and wins but it’s nice to go out there and have a game plan. He has a game plan and he’s good at executing.”

His performance at the National Wrestling Coaches Association Multi-Divisional National Duals was indicative of his improvement, overturning a 1-4 mark as a freshman to 4-1 mark.

“This year, my four wins were close matches,” said Baumler, who is 30-9. “I feel that told me a lot about my progress.”

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Many factors have impacted Baumler’s results. He has grown into a larger weight class. Baumler has worked with assistant coach Carl Broghammer, who was a three-time All-American and the career wins leader at Upper Iowa.

Grimm said Baumler has transitioned from boy to man physically, bumping up from 184 a year ago. He hit the weight room in the offseason, working with assistant strength and conditioning coach Zach Anderson.

“He’s having success because of what he did this summer,” Grimm said. “Nobody gained as much strength on our team as he did. He led the charge there. He’s maturing.”

Broghammer, who was known for his toughness and a knack for punishing opponents, has had a big influence on him as well. Baumler recalled the first time he grappled with Broghammer in practice, screeching in pain from one of Broghammer’s turns.

Things aren’t as one-sided in workouts now. If he can hold his own with Broghammer, Baumler is confident he can compete with anyone else.

“He used to put a pretty good lump on my head,” Baumler said with a laugh. “I’ve closed a little bit but I hope to close it even more and hopefully beat him by the time I’m done here.

“I figure if I can compete with him I can compete with about anybody in the nation so that’s been my mentality.”

Baumler has his sights set on being an All-American. He will be glad to take home some hardware.

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“The first step is getting on the podium,” Baumler said. “I’ll be happy if I get on the podium. Once I get on the podium, I’ll worry about furthering my goals.”

The Peacocks have their own team aspirations, looking to get medals for all six wrestlers. Maleek Williams (125), Josh Walker (133), Damian Penichet (149), freshmen Dalton Hahn at 184 and heavyweight Logan Hopp are also in the field, giving Upper Iowa the talent to contend for a top-four finish.

“We want to be standing on the stage, hoisting up a team trophy,” Grimm said. “We have six guys and we’re not giving up on that goal one bit. That is exactly what we want to get done. We can get it done.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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